Welcome to my place . . . Portland, Oregon

Venture off the tourist trail with an insider’s guide to the city’s best places to visit

Angela Gillette with her husband Mark Gillette and their children Lily (11) and Jackson  (9).

Angela Gillette with her husband Mark Gillette and their children Lily (11) and Jackson (9).

 

Angela Gillette, originally from Glasnevin in Dublin, has been living in the US for 26 years. After 18 years in California, where she met her American husband Mark, the family moved to Portland in 2009, where she works in IT for the state of Oregon

Where is the first place you bring people to when they visit Portland in summer?

A brewery with a great outdoor patio on the eastside of Portland. Like Dublin, a river divides us. While all of the ‘tourist’ Portland is mostly downtown on the westside, the more residential eastside is where most people live, and it has a number of vibrant little main street commercial areas.

We also have a huge craft beer culture here and a lot of the more than 60 breweries in town have great outdoor patios and roof decks. A lunch outdoors at Great Notion brewery followed by a stroll around vibrant Alberta Street makes for a great afternoon. Bring your sunscreen – summers here can get hot, temperatures from 25-35 degrees Celsius in July and August are common

The top three things to do in Portland, that don’t cost money, are ...

A walk across our new Tillikum Crossing bridge. This is the first car-free bridge in the US – buses, trains, bikes and pedestrians are allowed, but no cars. It’s a pleasant walk on a sunny day with a great view of many of the other bridges crossing the Willamette River in downtown Portland. If you are up for a longer walk you can also combine this with a loop around the Eastside Esplanade and downtown Portland for a scenic half-day out.

Portland’s Tillikum Crossing bridge, the first car-free bridge in the US. Photograph: Getty Images
Portland’s Tillikum Crossing bridge, the first car-free bridge in the US. Photograph: Getty Images

A trip to one of the almost daily farmers’ markets in summer. There is a Wednesday night market near me in Sellwood and a Sunday morning market in Woodstock. You can usually wander around and sample fresh produce, sausage, honey, jams and desserts, while visiting a less-touristy little neighbourhood of town. The markets also have music and activities like face-painting or art projects for kids.

Movies in the park. This is a summer-long event scheduled by our parks department every year. Bring a blanket and a picnic and enjoy a family friendly or retro movie at dusk.

Where do you recommend for a meal eaten out doors on a sunny day?

A food cart pod. Portland has a huge food cart culture and there are a number of parking lots and areas that have turned into groupings of 10-12 food carts, with seating. My current favourite is Cartlandia, in the outer southeast part of Portland. Sample dishes from over 16 food carts, including many Thai, Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern options. Grab some dessert and beers as well and enjoy outdoor seating. It is on a well-known bike trail so you can work some of those calories off afterwards.

Portland’s White Stag, a former advertising sign, greets visitors. Photograph: Getty Images
Portland’s White Stag, a former advertising sign, greets visitors. Photograph: Getty Images

Where is the best place to get a sense of Portland’s place in history?

Oddly enough, I would recommend a trip out of town, 10 or so miles to the End of the Oregon Trail museum in Oregon City. This is a very hands-on museum that walks you through the historical western migration that occurred from the 1840s through the 1860s and helped populate Portland, the Willamette Valley and a lot of the West coast. You get to see how these pioneers planned and executed their journey, the hazards they faced and how this contributed to the founding of early Oregon towns including Portland.

What should visitors save room in their suitcase for after a visit to Portland?

Pie. The Willamette Valley south of Portland is home to a lot of great berry-growing farms and there a number of local bakeries that go all out in summer to crank out amazing fruit and berry pies. My favourite is Lauretta-Jean’s bakery which sells whole pies with an amazing flaky crust and terrific combinations of fillings. Not sure you should put it in the actual suitcase though.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We’d love to hear from you.

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